Sometimes a topic keeps turning up at Detritus of Empire for no reason other than that I find it interesting.
I continue to collect examples of Tree Shaped Tombstones, but am really no farther along in my understanding of them.
Most Americans are fairly open minded regarding religion. But in matters of life and death they have historically preferred to hedge their bets just a little. Hence the common situation of having both Catholic and Protestant affiliated hospitals in many cities, even when logic would suggest that a single institution would serve better. You would not want to die in the "wrong" place.
And of course we have cemeteries devoted to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and I suppose Muslim faiths.
When wandering about the Protestant cemetery I found lots of "Trees". But across the road which, along with the whole Reformation thing, divides the departed of various faiths, I found no similar tombstones. The cemeteries were of similar age. The demographics of the two communities were similar. But no tree shaped tombstones on the Catholic side.
It got me wondering. At various times in history Catholics have been discouraged from joining fraternal organizations. So maybe these generic tree tombstones really did indicate membership in the Woodmen of the World. And maybe no Catholics were allowed in, either by the Pope or by the Woodmen. A plausible theory that did not survive my finding this bit of evidence on the Catholic side:
In another small cemetery I found some Tree Tombstones that had a nice point-counterpoint theme: